Hitting snooze on the ‘always on’ culture
Exploring why switching off is important
Mobile phones. Computers. Tabs. We’re all familiar with relying on at least one of these pieces of tech to survive in our day-to-day lives, be it for social or work use. In the workplace, it’s common practice to use a laptop or computer to carry out tasks and communicate with peers. This can also mean that, on a daily basis, we’re flooded with a range of online communications: emails, meeting invites, to-do lists, and so on. But little consideration has been given to how the digital age affects our wellbeing.
With employees using technology to complete tasks and work remotely, work is no longer limited to the physical office space. A recent survey revealed that 72.4% of employees reply to work emails or make calls outside of their contracted hours. The easy access to online work platforms has led to employees being unable to ‘switch off’ after the working day, with a third of employees checking work emails right before bed.
This ‘always on’ culture has detrimental effects on wellbeing: Ofcom’s Communications Market Research (2018) revealed that 15% of adults reporting that being constantly online makes them feel like they are always at work.
With work-life balance becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, it’s not uncommon for employees to suffer from increased levels of stress, reduced sleep and less time to enjoy social down-time. Further research indicates that work emails create ‘anticipatory stress’ for employees and stops them from disengaging with work after the end of the day.
The effects of this can range from mental exhaustion to impacting family life balance: 21% of UK children feel like their parents don’t listen to them properly because they are always answering work calls or emails. The lack of relaxation not only impacts employees and their personal wellbeing, but also impacts the businesses they work for. With increased levels of stress and exhaustion, employees are more likely to be less productive, affecting quality and load of tasks being completed during the day.
10 tips for switching off at the end of the day
For employees and employers alike, here are some of our top tips to hit snooze on the ‘always on’ culture:
1. Turn email notifications off after leaving work.
2. Leave the workplace on time. A tired brain is less productive!
3. Create a to-do list at the end of each day. This prevents worries about unfinished tasks during the evenings.
4. Use the Pomodoro technique. Work solidly on a task for twenty-five minutes, rewarding yourself with a five-minute break after each task. This will help you not only focus but keep the mind fresh.
5. Take a regular break away from your screen to avoid dry and tired eyes from staring at a screen all day.
6. Work tasks or not: avoid using your mobile phone an hour before bed. Blue light makes it harder for our brains to switch off and sleep.
7. Set reminders of when you will respond to emails. This avoids ‘anticipatory stress’ and reduces email disruption throughout the day.
8. Make the most of your lunch break. Spend it away from the computer, have a face-to-face chat with a colleague or enjoy a walk for some fresh air and vitamin D.
9. Request a flexible working policy from your employer.
10. Get moving! Try using a standing desk to increase energy levels and reduce neck stiffness and back pain.
The importance of wellbeing in the modern workplace cannot be underestimated. So how can businesses make the structural and cultural changes necessary to entrench wellbeing as a core company principle? Listen to our reWorked episode with Vix Anderton sharing invaluable tips on the steps we can take to focus more on our own wellbeing in everyday life.